Non‐genetic diversity modulates population performance

  • Waite A
  • Frankel N
  • Dufour Y
  • et al.
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Abstract

Biological functions are typically performed by groups of cells that express predominantly the same genes, yet display a continuum of phenotypes. While it is known how one genotype can generate such non-genetic diversity, it remains unclear how different phenotypes contribute to the performance of biological function at the population level. We developed a microfluidic device to simultaneously measure the phenotype and chemotactic performance of tens of thousands of individual, freely-swimming Escherichia coli as they climbed a gradient of attractant. We discovered that spatial structure spontaneously emerged from initially well-mixed wild type populations due to non-genetic diversity. By manipulating the expression of key chemotaxis proteins, we established a causal relationship between protein expression, non- genetic diversity, and performance that was theoretically predicted. This approach generated a complete phenotype-to-performance map, in which we found a nonlinear regime. We used this map to demonstrate how changing the shape of a phenotypic distribution can have as large of an effect on collective performance as changing the mean phenotype, suggesting that selection could act on both during the process of adaptation.

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APA

Waite, A. J., Frankel, N. W., Dufour, Y. S., Johnston, J. F., Long, J., & Emonet, T. (2016). Non‐genetic diversity modulates population performance. Molecular Systems Biology, 12(12), 895. https://doi.org/10.15252/msb.20167044

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